At various times in your life, you put yourself on the back burner due to other priorities, responsibilities, or pressing demands. This could be due to everything from health concerns to caregiving responsibilities to major life changes. This deprioritization of self can only last so long before you end up feeling depleted, lost, purposeless, or exhausted. As you approach these unsettling feelings, you may also experience a yearning for a more integrated self, seek deeper balance and question what “whole self” really means for you right now.
At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, we help clients identify when they might be deprioritizing their own self-care and interests too much and work to proactively help them understand ways to strive toward a more integrated self. In this post, we discuss how you can reclaim yourself, reinvent yourself, or even redefine yourself after periods of not making yourself a priority.
Life is complex and ever-changing. The need to reclaim yourself can happen after seemingly minor life changes or following major shifts.
As a common example, if you are a new parent, caregiver, or student, you take on a new set of duties. Often, these roles have a long list of demands and compete with your time for years, resulting in fewer opportunities to connect with yourself in a meaningful way. Similarly, consuming relationships or partnerships without healthy boundaries can often result in a loss of self, less time caring for oneself, or confusion about who you truly are and what you want.
A loss of self can also happen temporarily, due to seasonal life circumstances such as the kids being out of school and home in the summertime, you or a a partner traveling more for work, or a family member suddenly becoming ill. People who lean on substances, alcohol or other addictive behaviors during difficult and overwhelming periods can also become disconnected from self-care needs.
In these examples, life might feel noisy or overwhelming and you can find yourself in “reactive” or “survival” mode. The sense of overwhelm means you are unable to reach any higher-level human needs. In any of these situations, reclaiming self is a way to empower yourself to create the future you want with more intention, balance, and regular self-reflection.
Steps to Reclaiming Self
Reclaiming and reconnecting with self is a proactive process where steps and successes often build on one another. There are many ways to experience more “whole self” living and one we often see with our clients involves the following steps:
1. Get clear on what you need and want
You can’t work toward a vision that you haven’t clearly defined. If reclaiming self to you means going back to work and recreating your career after kids, name that specifically. Avoid working toward “feeling better” and instead define what you think you specifically need and want.
2. Create and visualize potential paths and plans to get there
Once you define your initial vision, imagine more than one path to get there. Most goals need a plan B or C, so be open to new ways to reach your goals. For instance, if you want to go back to work, consider everything from applying to jobs to starting your own business, to taking on some freelance work to get a sense of what will be most fulfilling. Create and explore more than one potential path.
3. Start small to build momentum
Like most things in life, experiencing some small wins can keep you motivated. If you land a first freelance job at 10 hours a week after having kids, you’ll start feeling the momentum building of fully going back to work and you can ease into it to ensure that it is what you truly want.
4. Tell others what you are trying to achieve and change
Sharing your plans, dreams, and needs with others helps build your support and accountability system. Others will help you make your vision come true, so be sure to share it with friends, family, and colleagues.
5. Assume you’ll lose focus or get off track
Change is hard and results are often slower than you want, which means that it is easy to lose focus. By assuming that you’ll get off track, you can make a plan now that outlines how to get back on track, while you are highly motivated and invested in your vision. Document why this change is important to you and what you can do to get back on track. Revisit this list when you start slipping back into old habits (like deprioritizing your career dreams due to too much chronic housework).
6. Be patient with yourself and forgive yourself
You likely won’t get this right the first time. You may iterate on your plans and vision a few times before you have clarity for yourself. Change happens in phases. Don’t forget to build self-care and self-love practices into your daily routine during this time. These opportunities will also help you reflect on what is important during this time of active and intentional change.
During this time of year, many parents have kids going back to school after summer break, which means you may have more time and energy to focus on self. It’s a natural time to question how whole and integrated your life feels. No matter what recent changes you have been through, either temporary or more permanent, at Center for Shared Insight, we can help you reclaim and redefine who you are, and hold you accountable to achieving the integrated life you yearn for. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more.